Rory: I’m sorry to hear that your children also experience these illnesses and difficulties. It’s very common for mental illnesses of many types to run in families – even if a parent has depression, any mood disorder could occur in their child, such as my bipolar with my mom’s depression. Do you currently get treatment, and does it help you function more effectively in relationships and in life?
Keira: My heart hurts knowing that you went through so much so young. To speak on that, my mother was never diagnosed until later in life when she suffered a complete break in reality. Our normal was so far off the charts we had no clue what any of what happened meant. I know now she couldn’t help it and did the best she could, but when I was younger it just didn’t make sense. I had so much anger, bitterness, and resentment towards her and the way she treated me, which was highly abusive, that I think if I had gone in with an understanding like you did I think it would have saved a lot of pain and heartbreak. I think the biggest thing that these newer generations have going for them is awareness and information. Something that back in the 80s and 90s wasn’t really available.
Thank you for the kind words and the heartfelt sentiment. It helps heal my heart a good bit.
Now to your question, I am currently taking Sertraline in a low dose for now since your body will build up tolerance to it and a breakthrough anxiety medication, Hydroxyzine, should situations arise that my anxiety spikes. The current plan is to treat my anxiety which could be aggravating my ADHD symptoms and see if I can manage my ADHD on my own with my anxiety meds. So far, it has been a game changer for me.
The pharmacist told me when I first picked up my prescription that it could take up to three weeks for me to feel a difference. I thought ok, cool. I went home and took my first pill and thirty minutes later I felt it hit. It was the wildest feeling because I felt my brain slow way down. I like to equate it with hearing screaming heavy metal music ALL the time and you have your finger on the speaker and can feel the vibration of the music as it blasts in your mind. That pill immediately silenced the screaming of the music but I could still feel the vibrations.
For once, inside my head was silent. There weren’t thoughts running willy nilly about all the things. I could choose what I wanted to think about. It was incredibly freeing to not be a slave to my brain.
In that I have been able to spin the plates that I have. I’ve become a more focused and invested partner to my husband and have been able to step up to the plate, being a better mom. I have been able to balance family life with things I never would have thought possible. I am on the PTA board to our kids school, a school district Ambassador, neighborhood liaison for the city, a writer, published author, Guest Educator, and have helped fight to bring in inclusion based playground equipment for our school district. Think wheelchair accessible merry-go-rounds, slides, swings, sensory garden items to enrich the experience and help children with sensory needs.
Rory: That’s amazing! I’m so glad to hear that the treatment has made such a positive difference. There’s a lot of stigma for some people about taking medication for mental illness, but for you and me, and a lot of other people, the difference is night and day. When I started taking antipsychotics in high school, inside of my head was suddenly so quiet, like it hadn’t been for most of my life. At the time I felt lonely to be honest, but it was for the best that the abusive voices and thoughts had finally stopped.
It sounds like you are on a good road to a better place now. Do you still have down days or episodes?
Keira: Oh, absolutely. These last few months have been a struggle to stay afloat mentally and not spiral. I have a friend, Kimber DeLaney, who calls the thoughts weasels. I like to call them sharks circling. In the last four months I was a caretaker for my grandfather who was in the last moments of life and watched him die before my eyes. There was an insane amount of drama with his passing and still is. I have unexpectedly lost a dear uncle and helped plan his funeral, which like with my grandfather had an absurd amount of drama attached. My husband lost his grandmother this past January and then his uncle on the 14th of this month. This last week, I found out my mother might have cervical cancer that possibly has spread to her uterus and ovary, my grandmother has pneumonia (not covid related), and her husband has an aggressive form of dementia. This past week was one of the harder ones because the toll from all of this compounded and finally broke me.
I was left feeling hopeless, that nothing I ever did mattered, and questioned everything from my place in life to even my writing abilities. This past Sunday I spent literally all day in my pj’s, hair unbrushed, etc just marinating in all of it. I gave myself the space to feel which I think is important. Not allowing yourself the freedom to feel the intense emotions does more harm than good in my mind but I also had to find the balance so I didn’t sink into a spiraling void of depression. It’s hard to know when you need to get up and say “Ok self, let’s do some laundry or brush our teeth” but having that control to do so I think is a big factor in me being medicated versus not.
Rory: Definitely. It is very important to feel emotions sometimes, and being in emotion mind isn’t always a bad thing. It’s getting to that combination of rational and emotion minds, to wise mind, that can allow us to fight enough to feel what we need to but keep doing what we need to do. I’m sorry to hear about all of the losses and stresses you’ve had recently, and I hope the best for your mother and yourself.
Thank you for joining me today. Is it okay for me to share your socials attached to this?
Keira: I’ve enjoyed every moment of this. Thank you again for having me and being so open yourself in discussing an oftentimes painful subject. The strength and courage is admirable and something I hope more people are empowered with because of what you are doing.
Absolutely! Share away.
Rory: Thank you again, Keira Lane. For those reading this, her Twitter account is @keiralanebooks and I highly recommend checking it out. Stay safe out there.